A constant shortage of donated blood in the state is becoming a major concern, especially for Mississippians living with sickle cell disease. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.
Lashaunda Davenport is home with her 11-year-old son DJ. He's in bed experiencing a severe sickle cell crisis and is scheduled to receive a blood transfusion this week to ease the pain.
"Every five weeks we are depending on those blood transfusions. He's been getting blood transfusions for a few years now so he's developed antibodies. It's a little bit more of a challenge in finding someone to match. That's why we need as many donors as we can to go out and donate blood," said Davenport.
Sickle Cell disproportionately affects African Americans. Some 3,000 are living with the disease in the state.
Like DJ, many sickle cell patients require regular blood transfusions to live and his best chance for a match is to receive from another African American.
Emily Austin is with Mississippi Blood Services.
She says less than four percent of Mississippians are donating blood and less than one percent are African American.
"It is so incredibly important and I know people don't think about it and it's not top of mind until you need it, but what needs to be understood is that that product needs to be on the shelf before you need it. It takes 24 to 48 hours to process the units that's donated. For example, all blood that's donated today two days from now it'll go to the hospital," said Austin.
Mississippi Blood Services and the Mississippi Sickle Cell Foundation will host a special blood drive today in Flowood in honor of World Sickle Cell Awareness Day. Mississippi Blood Services will also be in nine other locations across the state. More information is online at msblood.com. Ashley Norwood, MPB News.